This week’s poem, Suzanne Langlois’s “Haunted,” starts with a look outside to where three trees used to be. But the poem quickly becomes a larger meditation on choice, convenience and the effects of even our simplest decisions. I love the possessed momentum of the speaker’s thoughts, the candor with which she considers her actions, and the visceral energy she senses in the consequences that slowly approach.

Langlois’s poems have appeared in The Maine Review, NAILED Magazine, Cider Press Review, The Fourth River, Off The Coast and Rattle, and on the Button Poetry channel. She teaches high school English in Portland and is currently an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College. “Haunted” appears in Langlois’s forthcoming chapbook, “Bright Glint Gone,” winner of the 2019 Maine Chapbook Series competition.

  

Haunted

By Suzanne Langlois

 

There are three ghosts outside my window,

maple trees I voted to remove to make more

room for the cars in the parking lot. Five humans

could not agree on the borders between their

shared inconvenience, and since the trees

could not vote on the matter, the trees are gone,

just like that, and I can not change my mind

and bring them back. Already they are smoke

rising from a chimney. Already they’ve been

converted into someone else’s comfort. People

are voted out of existence every day, and every

day I cast my careless ballot when I nudge my car

into the tangle of traffic, when I eat my lunch

from a plastic cup with a foil lid and then throw

them in a plastic bag in a bin that will be emptied

into a larger bin at the end of the day and again

tomorrow and and and and remorse is brittle.

It splinters under the weight of the next optional

inconvenience. I know there is a day in the future

when I will regret every optional inconvenience

I opted out of. The obligatory suffering already

felt by so many will arrive at my door with

its own key, or a crowbar, or a curtain of flame.

Already it is spidering towards me, a rumor

that wished itself true. Already, its roots snake

under the asphalt, buckling the pavement,

ready to tear the whole thing down.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Haunted” copyright 2019 by Suzanne Langlois. Forthcoming in the chapbook “Bright Glint Gone,” it appears by permission of the author.


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